The agonies I suffered during that descent no pen can describe. Every moment I expected to feel my shoulder gripped from behind, or to feel the hands of some mysterious and infernal power around my neck. Close behind me followed my companion, humming—
“And the devil has got
his due, my lads—
Sing hey! but he waits for you!”
And though I was far from singing hey! at the prospect, I felt that he meant what he said.
Arrived at the foot of the rock, we passed through the archway on to Ready-Money Cove. Turning down to the edge of the sea, the Captain scanned the water narrowly, but there was no trace of the hapless John. With a muttered curse, he began quickly to climb out along the north side of the rock, just above the sea-level, and looked again into the depths. Once more he was disappointed. Flinging off his clothes, he dived again and again, until from sheer exhaustion he crept out, bundled on his shirt and trousers, and climbed back to me.
“Curse him! where can he be?”
I now saw for the first time how terribly worn and famished the man was: he looked like a wolf, and his white teeth were bare in his rage. He had cut his foot on the rock. Still keeping his evil eye upon me, he knelt down by the water’s edge and began slowly to bathe the wound.
“By the way, boy, what did you say your name was? Jasper? Jasper what?”
“Ten thousand devils!”
He was on his feet, and had gripped me by the shoulder with a furious clutch. I turned sick and cold with terror. The blue sky swam and circled around me: then came mist and black darkness, lit only by the gleam of two terrible eyes: a shout—and I knew no more.
TELLS HOW THE SAILOR GEORGIO RHODOJANI GAVE EVIDENCE AT THE “LUGGER INN.”
I came gradually back to consciousness amid a buzz of voices. Uncle Loveday was bending over me, his every button glistening with sympathy, and his face full of kindly anxiety. What had happened, or how I came to be lying thus upon the sand, I could not at first remember, until my gaze, wandering over my uncle’s shoulder, met the Captain’s eyes regarding me with a keen and curious stare.
He was standing in the midst of a small knot of fishermen, every now and then answering their questions with a gesture, a shrug of the shoulders, or shake of the head; but chiefly regarding my recovery and waiting, as I could see, for me to speak.
“Poor boy!” said Uncle Loveday. “Poor boy! I suppose the sight of this man frightened him.”
I caught the Captain’s eye, and nodded feebly.
“Ah, yes, yes. You see,” he explained, turning to the shipwrecked man, “your sudden appearance upset him: and to tell you the honest truth, my friend, in your present condition—in your present condition, mind you—your appearance is perhaps somewhat—startling. Shall we say, startling?”